The perennial peanut also known as Arachis Pintoi is called Mani Forrajero in Ecuador. This is a perennial tropical legume. It’s one of the most highly effective flowering ground cover available. For the tropical climate we have at the farm. Important to mention that this perennial is a natural nitrogen-fixer. They sequester atmospheric nitrogen into their roots. This nitrogen fixing quality means that they can provide nutrition for their own growth as well as for nearby plants. In our case the Soursop fruit trees. Interestingly it’s also drought tolerant. Just in case we run out or rainwater in our tropical mountain rainforest climate.
Having a good ground-cover is essential to stop tropical rainwater erosion on steep slopes and control fast growing weeds. We have been applying Perennial peanut in conjunction with Vetiver grass to increase soil microorganisms activity. Its seeds germinate when top growth dies back, enabling it to maintain a dense mat. This ground cover also discourages weeds by shading or crowding areas where they might appear. As a living mulch, it also helps to improve soil structure and health.
The plants have four oval leaflets on each petiole and yellow, pea-like flowers. The yellow flowers due attract local insects and stingless bees. The yellow blossoms are visible all year round. The plant spreads by underground stems called rhizomes. Interesting detail is that unlike most plants, the peanut plant flowers above the ground, but fruits (peanuts) below ground.
Perennial peanut plants crawl along the ground but do not twine around other plants or grow up our fruit trees. It even tolerates a variety of soil types and the conditions at many elevations.
Above you can see the perennial peanut. This was our second experiment in propagating this legume. The first experiment was by planting living parts of it into the ground. Now this was achieved by planting 10 seeds about 10 centimeters away from the central stick, circularly.
The conclusion is that bot methods take rather long at our farm. Probably because of the soil being extremely rich in iron. So if you have a tropical farm and are researching for the most multipurpose living ground cover. You just found it. Its called Perennial peanut (Arachis Pintoi).